Writing On the Walls

2017 February 316

Sometimes it’s hard, to take it straight up. Life, as it is- or as it just feels at the time. Without media, that mental medication that takes the edge off it- for a moment. Fleeting. Hollow. Dumbly painful.
The words float around in my head like satellites, blinking, painfully passive, but still managing to drone out a constant signal.
Something’s wrong.
Something’s not right.
Like a piano that’s not tuned- the keys just off enough to give you the type of dull headache that makes you act like you’re a jerk and be terribly tempted to be one too.
Noise.
Pain is noise.
I think about that sometimes. Pain is pain because it’s distracting. Like a noise. Like a pitch just a little too high.
It’s in the background; filing off my edge. My ability to focus. To not make obvious mistakes. To feel comfortable. To be at rest.
Noise.
Oh, the endless noise.
I always figured myself for the kind of person that has a really low pain threshold- but tried really hard to not look like it.
Always trying to look more hardcore than I am.
Always trying to be a character other than the comic relief. The hero, if I’m being honest. My pride is so so shameful.
I know it’s wrong, but sometimes I really frustrated with the way I am. When I read my personality profile, the hard to stomach reality of my chipper-ness, my bubbly personality, makes me feel ridiculous. Of course I’m positive, and metaphorical, and friendly.
That’s just the way I am.
I should thank God for it because He saw fit to make me like this. I say all the time; I can’t even remember what I had for dinner last night, what in the world would make me think I could come up with better plans and laws for the universe than God, both infinite in His existence and in His wisdom?
I feel like I’m under the flame of a blowtorch- the heat is so intense. Sometimes I just especially feel Satan trying to back me into a wall. I feel like we’re playing Jenga and he’s pulling to loose. This vital block here, that vital block there.
It’s not just one hard thing, it’s 2 in a row. Or, if that doesn’t happen, he can always pull out that shadowy, watery, so effectively crippling what-about-your-future-you-can’t-accomplish-anything-you-suck-at-your-dream-your-dream-is-wrong-you-are-wrong-and-selfish card.
I start getting so depressed. I don’t even get pleasure out of anything. Listening to Switchfoot wasn’t even making feel better- that’s usually not a good sign at all.
The pressure. So much pressure. I know it may seem strange to some people, but one of the hardest struggles I have as a Christian is giving up TV shows when I think I’m supposed to. Seriously, it’s one of the biggest, hardest things for me to deal with. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true.
I’ve noticed before that I feel more life purpose and I feel more emotionally energized when I am constistantly watching a TV show almost every night. That’s really alarming just reading what I just typed.
Without it, I feel lost. I feel like a band trying to stay in time without a drummer. It’s so weird. It also seems so wrong.
Recently, there was a show I stopped watching and it’s been tearing me up. If I really love God, you think I’d be all “counting it all joy” and being hyped to sacrifice for Christ…but mostly I just feel disappointed, frustrated, depressed, and gripey.
Satan loves to plant the lie in my mind that my religion brings me more unhappiness than happiness. I think he’s doing that because he knows that so many of my life’s decisions are filtered through: will this make me happy or will this make me unhappy?
Sometimes, it’s really hard when I’m allowing myself to be discouraged and depressed and I start thinking treason about, why are you doing this if it’s making you miserable?
I think the real question is, is this /making/ me miserable or am I letting it make me miserable?
I don’t need TV to survive. I will be okay.
God, I really really really need to believe that you are enough. I was watching a music video tonight and I started praying and I said: please help me to believe you more than I believe me.
I’m saying that again.
I need the help to even be willing to believe you more than I believe myself.
I’m in a really dark time right now, at least partially self inflicted, I’d bet. I feel stuck, depressed, restless, and hopeless at the same time. Not a nice mix, I’ll say.
Every once and a while I’ll get this little jump in my heart where of belief will rise up in me and for a second I’ll have this moment of believing that things can get better. Like a flash of sunlight inside of me. After thinking about it, I realized that I was feeling hope.
Slightly insane that I didn’t recognize it right away.
I want to feel that more. I don’t like living here. In this place where I find myself drawing on the walls.
Have you ever come up with a stategy on what you’d do if you got thrown in prision for a prolonged (or indefinate) period of time? Not from the stand point of “I did something wrong” but more the “convicted unjustly” kinda thing? Like, how would you cope? How would you rise above the 4 cement walls and only seeing faces that hated you?
I have several coping stragies, to be honest, but the one that sticks out most in my mind is that I’d draw on the walls.
Somehow, I’d get chalk or pencil or something and I’d cover the walls with pictures. Animals, and heroic people, and princesses, and princes, and flowers, and birds, and lots and lots of everything. I’d do something that they couldn’t ignore. Something that grew off the walls like a weed in the best possible way.
Something that even hard faces, and prison food couldn’t contain. Something alive. Something that grew. Something beautiful.
Tonight found me trying to cope. Tonight found me picking up a pencil off my desk in my room and walking over to the wall. There’s a penciled picture of a horse on the drywall now- and even though it’s not perfect, from where I’m laying on my bed right now, it looks just about beautiful. And it looks free.

 

“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

~John 8:32

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Harder

 

Sometimes, I’m tired.

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Tired in a lot of different ways. Too tired to talk. Just wanting some sleep. Tired of trying and feeling like I’m getting no where fast.
Sometimes I just feel like I’m hitting a wall. I’ll finally muster up the courage to take a stab at life, and I feel like I’m getting a good old fashioned brick in the face. It’s funny, isn’t it? When we take a step in the right direction, a lot of times I think we expect we’re going to met with cheers, medals, and a couple pats on the back for good measure.
Righteousness is it’s own reward.
It just doesn’t always look like that. Not this side of eternity.
If it was easy, everyone would do the right thing. Even if just for those back pats.

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I’m just going into work. Just doing what the broke mortals around me crawl out of bed in the morning to do.

Lunch in a plastic grocery bag. Overstuffed backpack thrown onto the passenger seat. Radio turned up loud enough to wake the dead and then some.
But I can feel, it’s so much more.

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So much more than numbers and scrapes and traffic lights and everything else I confront on a daily basis.
I find myself praying for strength with a frequency I’ve never experienced before.
God, help me be strong today. God, help me be the person you made me to be today. God, help me do my best today.
I’ve been recently challenged by an unlikely source on what my best really means.
I was watching a TV show and the light bulb started to flash up again in a big way. I find it so amazing what God uses to change my weary heart. It blows me away. And has me thinking on a daily basis that I’m crazy.

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But, that’s a whole other can of worms. One that won’t be cracked open today.
So this guy wakes up in the morning, covered in bruises from the street wars he fights at night. He groans and rolls out of bed to go to work and pretend like he’s a normal blind guy.

Suit and tie, white cane.

Quiet. Unassuming. Normal.

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Not one whose love of the lost, the helpless, and the hurting is so intense, so all consuming, that he goes out after dark and gets beat to a pulp to protect a bunch of people who don’t know him.

And he doesn’t stop.

He fights until he literally can’t anymore. He fights until he’s unconscious. He fights until he’s so covered in blood and cuts and the raw sense of purpose you get from doing what’s right that he can’t stand up. So he crawls back home, collapses into his bed and wakes up to his alarm the next morning.

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I started to ask myself some questions.
How much do I care? Do I care enough to leave a blood trail? Do I care enough to do what’s right even when it hurts? Do I fight for life; am I willing to not give up?
I was looking at a pile of dishes stacked in the sink the other day. I’d just worked a long shift and I had almost every reason in the book to check out and leave my plate to “soak” or fester or whatever it is that unloaded dishes inevitably end up doing.

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Then I remembered.

 

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This is when he keeps going. This is the bonus round. This is the part of the show that you leave blood on the battlefield and don’t look back.

Those dishes didn’t know what hit them.
I get discouraged too easily, I need the will, the drive.

I need the heart to fight and not stop.

 

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My Savior’s best was blood and nails and a cross. Why should mine be any different? Why is a day job less important? When did my every moment become meaningless? I believe God has me where I am for a reason. I believe it matters. And I want to live that way.
I don’t have to be older. I don’t have to be strong. If that guy from a TV show taught me anything, I don’t even have to be able to see straight. I just have to care. Pray for strength like I mean it and go hit these bricks like I’ll never stop.

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But, I’ll admit with an open, bloodied, heart: discouragement is a hard dog to beat.

 

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The other night I was so sad, my hurt bleeding through the pages of my past and into everything I’ve ever wanted to be.

Why do my punches never stick? I want to be who I need to be, but so often I just feel like I can’t. Even when I try, even when I grit it out from between clenched teeth. It just won’t work. And everyone knows it.

And I’m sitting there in my parked car and all of a sudden, the words come into my head.

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“Why do you say, “I am only a youth?”
The tears came. They’re coming now.
What is my best? What is enough? What am I doing here if I’m not going to fight for something? God put me here, and I’m gonna fight harder. I’m not going to stop. My best is all I have. I refuse to live half way.

This is my battle field. This is my dark alley. This is my proving ground. I don’t care if it doesn’t look like it. I’m going to be faithful with this little. I’m going to work this day job like it’s my night job. Like the fate of my city depends on it. Like every phone call is important. Like every box I check matters. Every inch of hard earned sweat. Every cut, every scar. Every dial tone. I believe it’s worth it. I’m giving it all the guts and gumption I have.

I’m doing my best.

 

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And, God help me, I’m never going to stop.

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me,

“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to break down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

-Jeremiah 1:1-10

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

-Philippians 3:12-14

…being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

-Colossians 1:11-14
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

-Philippians 3:20-21

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

-Colossians 1:28-29

Blessed be the Lord, my rock,
    who trains my hands for war,
    and my fingers for battle;
he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
    my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge,
    who subdues peoples under me.

-Psalm 144:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

-Romans 12:1-2

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Is It a Sign?

I’ve been thinking a lot about existence. I think about how crazy it is that I even exist. That I experience things. That I understand, at least a little bit, what beauty means. That I feel even the tiniest pull of the gravity of being. How easy it would have been for me to never be. To be nothing. To be a nothing.

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Sometimes I feel like a nothing. Sometimes, I feel the inability to even change the smallest part of all that’s wrong with me and with the world I feel so intimately a part of.

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I’ve been reading a book, and I’ve been thinking. From the beginning of this book, I’ve felt so many things in common with the heroine. She’s a mechanic, she works with her hands, she’s down in the grime and technicality of existence and it shows on her greasy cargo pants. Every smudge feels like a brand; she’s a different class of person. She’s not like everyone else. Their silk and skirts and soft hands are part of a world she’s never been a citizen of. She’s different. She’s not like all of them. She can never be like them. She will never be like them.

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As fate and fairy tale plays out, she finds out that she’s actually the lost heir to another planet’s throne. She’s the only hope for the end of war, of disease, of mankind’s problems in general. Immensely important. And oh, so very different.

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It all comes as a sort of shock. But she takes up the mantle and runs with it, because it’s what she knows must happen. Because, whether or not she understands it, it’s in her destiny. It’s in her bones. Deep.

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And as I’m reading this book, I’m struck with this intense, heavy desire to have that happen to me. To have some random person who knows what they’re talking about come up to me and blow my mind with the knowledge that I am intensely important, desired, needed and infinitely different. To have some validation. To be worth something to someone. To everyone. Maybe it stems from my lamentable self-absorption and that weird fascination I’ve always had with royalty. I’m sure that’s probably a good part of it.
But maybe it runs in my bones. Deeply.

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As I was taking it all in, I thought sadly that realism dictates that something like that could never happen to me. Suddenly, softly, a thought popped into my head.
God wanted you in His universe. In the vastness of space and His great plan for the world, he thought: I want an Allie in this.

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He wanted me as one of His characters. I didn’t have to exist. No unwritten law of the universe said that I had to be, that my very being dictated that I had to have a soul, and a body, and a chance, God willing, to do some good in the world.

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Or maybe, it did? Why would a God of graciousness and wisdom and grandeur and all the things I am furthest from on my own conceive me in the beauty of His thought? Of His plan. Of this greatest of adventures that He calls us frail and flimsy humans to?

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Can God see more in me than I can? Than I think other people can? Can He see past my grease stains, and cargo pants, and every failure I carry that threatens to burn me from the inside out?
Yes, yes He can.
My name means “Noble”. Is it a sign?

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” The nations shall see your righteousness,
    and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name
    that the mouth of the Lord will give.
 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
    and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
 You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
    and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
    and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you…”

~ Isaiah 62:2-4

“You are altogether beautiful, my love;

    there is no flaw in you.”

~Song of Solomon 4:7

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The Lie Won’t Work

I did something rather self serving this Christmas.
You see, my younger sister loves Switchfoot. The kind of love that makes Vice Verses fan art into room decor and changes computer wall paper to a collage of California pictures. I’m afraid those guys have convinced my poor impressionable sister that San Diego is the promised land.

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But that’s a story for another time.
Anyway, I did something rather self serving when I bought their album Hello Hurricane for her. Yeah, she loves Switchfoot, and I know she’ll enjoy every hard core moment of it, but really, it’s the album I wanted.
Still, I think it turned out pretty well. She promptly found a new life song and I, par usual, was able to burn the CD to my computer, sync it to my iPod, and set it to intravenous drip.

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Before long, the music meds started kicking in.

The funny thing about Switchfoot is that it is very much about searching. Searching for the answers. Searching for meaning. Searching for where we all belong. And, through God’s great mercy on my soul, Hello Hurricane got me thinking things I haven’t really been willing to face for a long time. Funny how the lights come on so suddenly sometimes.

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I was watching Stargate Atlantis the other night and had an interesting revelation.

The members of the Atlantis team, who have been stranded in another galaxy and cut off from earth indefinitely, are exploring a seemingly random planet. As they are poking around and, you know, doing typical sci-fi stuff: taking readings, cracking jokes, etc… they find what they think is a way to get back to earth.

Obviously, they are quite excited.

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When the times comes, they fire up their plan and before they know it: BAM! They’re back at the earth home base. Ecstatic, they go back to their houses, catch up with their friends, get a stack of pizzas, throw a party- you know, what people usually do when they get back from a long trip.
But, as time goes on, they start to realize that something’s up. Sheppard, the guy with the gun, finally decides something’s not right when some military buddies whose plane crashed in Afghanistan years ago show up at his party. Perfectly alive.
And with no idea what he’s talking about. Even in sci-fi this is a major red flag.

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Sheppard knows these guys should be long gone. Are long gone.
He flips out and pulls a gun on the guys.
“Somebody tell me what’s going on!”
And, everybody’s just like: Dude, you’re crazy. Put the gun down.
But he knows he’s not crazy. He knows he’s right. He knows something is wrong.
And he does not put that gun down.

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In a moment, Sheppard finds himself transported back to earth head quarters, or at least, what appears to be earth headquarters.
A being, still in the form of one of their friends explains that all they had just experienced was an elaborate delusion created from their past memories.
They never threw a pizza party. They never made it back to earth. They never even got through the stargate.
It was all a lie.

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And things take a turn for the even worser when the being explains that they can’t get back to reality. In fact, even though their consciousnesses are obviously still active, their physical bodies are lying knocked out cold on that original planet. So, the illusion can only last as long as their unprotected, unfed bodies can cling to life back on the surface. The being suggests they enjoy the delusion. As best they can. For however short it lasts.

Sheppard doesn’t buy it. “That’s not going to work for us. We’ll find a way to fight you. This isn’t life! What do you want us to do, just pretend!?”
That’s when the light bulbs in my head turned on.

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  I haven’t been living real life. I’ve been selling my soul to an illusion for too long. In my heart of hearts, do I seek God? Do I love God? What do I care about more, God or Stargate? I have to be honest this time.
And the more I thought about it the more convinced I became.
I’m 21. Most people would say life is just starting. By all outward accounts I have plenty of time.
Plenty of time to have a pizza party. Plenty of time to play. Plenty of time to figure out how to live my life like I know I should.

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But I don’t want to buy into it. I won’t buy into it. The world is an illusion. The world is bent on drugging me into believing that that I have plenty of time. That pleasure is enough. That idols really do satisfy. That comfortable and okay is enough.

Even if something just doesn’t quite feel right.

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But everything is fine. The world is fine. You’re fine….
NO I AM NOT FINE. As long as the enemy has dumbed me down and me numbed down into believing a LIE is REALITY, I am not fine.

Unconscious and starving to death has never been okay, and it won’t start being okay now!

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I have to fight the illusion.
I have to question. I have to keep asking. I have to keep trying to get back to where I’m supposed to be.
What kind of a person am I going to turn out to be? When is the rubber going to hit the road? When do I put my foot down, pull my gun out and start fighting to live the life God destined me to live?

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I need to get back. Back to where I’ve always belonged.
I don’t believe the hype. I don’t believe that this world is enough. I refuse to enjoy the lie, however well it interests or entices me.
I’m fighting to get back to where I belong.
And no one is going to stop me.

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~

O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek You;
    my soul thirsts for You;
my flesh faints for You,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
 So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary,
    beholding Your power and glory.
 Because Your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise You.
 So I will bless You as long as I live;
    in Your name I will lift up my hands.

 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise You with joyful lips,
 when I remember You upon my bed,
    and meditate on You in the watches of the night;
 for You have been my help,
    and in the shadow of Your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to You;
    Your right hand upholds me.

But those who seek to destroy my life
    shall go down into the depths of the earth;
they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
    they shall be a portion for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God;
    all who swear by him shall exult,
    for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

~Psalm 63

 

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Look Up

I wrote this weeks ago… but I’m still so crazy encouraged by what God taught (and is still teaching) me through it, that I’m posting it anyway- in the great hope that God will use it mightily. This post is for anyone who needs a reason to get up in the morning and face the sun. Hopefully, God in His awesomely perfect timing will use it better late than never…

 

It’s been hard lately.

And I know it shouldn’t be.

 

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Bad days. I’ve recently started comforting myself with the fact that they’re just part of the gig.

 

Feeling glum. Missing out. Being a meanie.
It’s normal, right?

 

The world’s messed up. We’re messed up. It happens.

 

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You know, it’s pretty sad that the idea that life is just crummy at times makes me feel better. Since when did being miserable start becoming acceptable? To quote Switchfoot’s pointed satire, “it’s all wrong, but it’s alright….
But is it?

 

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I’ve been wondering.
I’ll be at work, and get some bad news. Or relieve some bad news in my head. Or just make some up. I do that a lot.
Then as if on cue, the following dialog will squirm its way into my pliable consciousness.
Life just isn’t fun sometimes, and that’s okay. Everybody has hard days. It’s not a big deal. Feeling disappointed happens. Sometimes things are lame. Learn to live through it. Just hang on to a sour faced thread until the clouds part and that rainbow slices through in all it’s technicolor glory. Then you can be happy again. Then your life can be worth something. Until then, you have permission to be miserable. It’s just a bad day.

 

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I feel ashamed. I’ve heaped this heartening sentiment on myself. Every happy thing that pops up to encourage me getting speedily buried under a big, gnarly gravestone of gloom and doom.
Here lies a pessimist. Discouraged to the end…

 

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Oh dear God, forbid
I’ve been thinking.

 

Yes, about Stargate. Somehow, I can’t stop finding it profound. It’s strange really. Or really strange. I’ll have to think about that.
Anyway, I was watching Stargate.
SG-1 has gotten into dire peril. Again. And this time, it’s not just the team’s lives on the line- it’s the planet.

Earth is about to be destroyed.

By aliens.

 

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Original, I know.

You’d really think the extraterrestrials would get the general idea that: IT NEVER WORKS. But, that’s a story for another time.

Stay with me, kids.

 

October is October 425
So, the bad guys have their bad guy ships with their bad guy guns perched not-so-conveintly over the earth and are ready to start blowing up humanity. And as usual the team is up there, getting ready to C-4 the bad guy ship (with themselves on it) because the world needs saved and that’s what they do for a living. Unfortunately for their heroic plans, bad guy henchmen bust in before they can explode anything, blast SG-1 senseless and take them as prisoners.

 

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As O’Neill so aptly puts it, “This is turning out to be a bad day.”
They all wake up in a holding cell temporarily blind. Carter freaks out and accidentally bites Jack; Daniel decides hopeless is the next big thing and gets wholeheartedly on the band wagon- things just aren’t going well.

Morale is less than low. O’Neill’s attempt at cheering everyone up goes down in flames.

 

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“Oh come on, Daniel! We’ve been in worse situations than this before”
“I can not recall any.”
Though too, Teal’c?
It’s just a bad day.
Even being broke out of jail by an ally doesn’t make everyone feel better.

 

October is October 158
The day swings in and out of control.

They get one of the bad guys.

The bad guys gets one of theirs.

In the midst of shooting and being shot at Jack ends up having to leave Daniel bleeding to death in a corridor so the rest of life earth on doesn’t get decimated.

 

October is October 239

Bad day. Bad day. Bad day.
When they finally succeed in saving humanity by blowing up both bad guy ships, what’s left of SG-1 barely escape the flames in a pair of mini crafts. They come hurtling out of the inferno and make a beeline back to earth.
Only, their ships got cooked in the explosion. So re-entry is going to involve everyone getting burnt into the crispy old crisp of oblivion.

 

 

October is October 209
It’s just turning out to be a bad day.
While their ships are being sucked towards the earth and certain death, Carter, as usual, starts going into scientific detail on how exactly they’re going to die and Jack as usual, tunes out everything she’s saying. Then he stops her in mid sentence.
“Carter, look up.”
And like always, she does what he says. She looks up.

 

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There’s the earth. Big. Beautiful. Blue.

“It’s beautiful, sir.”

And as they’re floating out there in space, waiting to get incinerated- Jack finally flips his switch and gets it.

 

“This wasn’t such a bad day after all.”
The mess melts away in an instant. Stun grenades, bullet wounds.
Death.

 

October is October 308
It’s not important anymore.
Today was a good day.
Big, beautiful, and so, so blue.
Our God is in the heavens, He does what He pleases…”

 

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It’s interesting to me.

All the time I’m running around, trying to save the world and look decent at the same time. Thinking that some how, if I just buckle down and take it like a “man,” something good will eventually happen to me and things will start to look up.

And maybe then I can raise my tired, frown creased face and take a glance heavenward.

 

October is October 608
But things don’t always change that way.

 

Sometimes they get worse.

Then I get mad. Mad when I’m hurt, mad when I’m not. Mad in general. Bad in general.
It’s just a bad day.

 

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But no, I refuse to live like that.

I believe that God is good.

I believe that He makes good things come out of terrible things.

I believe that every second I have is important.

I believe that every day is worth living.

I believe that today is beautiful.
Re-entry and all.

 

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And it’s not like everything is roses and cupcakes all the time; I’m not talking denial, friends.

Pain happens. Hurt happens.

Death- happens.
But it’s not the big picture. It’s not the end.

 

October is October 623
Is watching a friend getting shot in front of you fun?

No.

Is being burned alive fun?

No.

What about disease, disappointment, despair….?

Is God still good?

Oh yes.

Is this day still, good?

 

October is October 001
You bet your C-4 it is.
Everyday you’ll ever exist on this planet was mapped out by God and planned to be good before the stars started shining. This day mattered. In the grand scheme of the universe and the world and the glory to come- it mattered. God didn’t throw today to us like so much loose change into a tip jar. It’s here for a reason.

You’re here for a reason.

The earth is still here- for a reason.
Big, beautiful, and God-made the bluest of blues.
So if you’re having a bad day, I have a suggestion.

Just take a second.
Look up.

 

  October is October 611

 

“The heavens tell about the glory of God.
    The skies announce what his hands have made.

 Each new day tells more of the story,
    and each night reveals more and more about God’s power.

You cannot hear them say anything.
    They don’t make any sound we can hear.

But their message goes throughout the world.
    Their teaching reaches the ends of the earth.”

~Psalm 19:1-4

 

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

~ Romans 8:37-39

 

“This is the day that the LORD has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!”

~Psalm 118:24

 

 

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Ocean

 

I’m scared of the ocean.

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No really, I am. I’ve got this thing about stuff I can’t comprehend. Also stuff that may or may not hide things that want to tear me limb from limb, shock me into submission, or pull me under for good. Watery graves just never appealed to me I guess.

 

I don’t know.

 

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I mean, last time I went to Florida, I actually had to make a mental pact with myself to not get freaked out so I could enjoy the trip.

 

You’re not allowed to let yourself go there, Allie. You just aren’t going to start thinking. Play it safe, don’t let your imagination turn on, and for heaven’s sake, stay close to the beach and pretend nothing’s wrong.

 

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It probably doesn’t help that I’ve lived away from the ocean my whole life. Settled comfortably in the middle of the seemingly sterile midwest, the biggest threat to my life as a kid was usually poison ivy. Among other things I won’t go into. That’s a story for another time.

This is about the ocean.

 

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So the other night I was laying around, late at night, doing random stuff on my comp. Listening to music. Thinking about stuff. Business is usual. Then the lights turned on.

 

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The ocean is scary- on so many levels. It’s big. It’s deep. It’s not safe. It goes on forever, to the naked eye at least. It’s hard to understand, let alone fathom.

 

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But I started thinking, and I remembered a long time ago.

I remembered one of my very best, vividest memories I had as a kid. It was of the ocean. Where my fam vacationed when I was really  young there was this whole huge expanse of marsh reeds and salt grasses and sand everywhere. Right before the ocean, hiding it. You couldn’t see the ocean for the reeds.

 

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It was super frustrating and exhilarating at the same time. As a small, short kid, that huge expanse was so sight obstructing that you couldn’t really see the the ocean full until you broke out of the grasses and got to where you could see the sky and the ocean meet. You could hear the roar of the water and but you couldn’t see it and you wanted to it so bad. It drove you crazy. I ran so fast that day. Every once and a while I’d get this flash, this glimpse of the ocean, but I was so dog gone bent on actually getting to there that it only made me run faster.

 

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And when those long, skinny, sharp grasses finally fell away and I made it over that crest on the hill, I could see the ocean. And man, it was the best feeling in the world. I’d just start jumping and screaming and running towards it as fast as I could.

It’s the thing I’d been looking and longing for my whole life. Every moment of the trip up to this point turned to ashes and blew away. Nothing mattered but me and that big, blue expanse.

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You see, to a kid, the ocean isn’t scary. It isn’t something that wants you drowned or eaten alive. It doesn’t have a pact with the sharks to have you as the main course. It doesn’t want to pin you down. It doesn’t want you trapped. It’s not out to get you. It’s strong. It’s magnificent. And it is so, so beautiful.

 

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Then I realized. Isn’t it like that with God? We see God’s majesty and it terrifies. I think people in general understand, to some degree at least, that God has every right to incinerate us on the spot. And that freaks us out. We see that ocean and it scares us so bad we try to block it out, stay on the beach, and hope the tide doesn’t come too close.

 

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I’ve let these grasses grow up myself, haven’t I?

Play it safe, don’t let your imagination turn on, and for heaven’s sake, stay close to the beach and pretend nothing’s wrong.

 

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In an effort to avoid God I’ve distanced myself from the very thing that my soul longs for most of all. That ocean. That amazing, glorious, un-understandable being that loves me like his own kid and makes me want to start screaming, jump up and down, and run as fast to him as humanly possible.

 

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I want to reach that point of not caring. I want to be that kid again. That kid that doesn’t care if it’s scary. Doesn’t care if I don’t know how to swim. Doesn’t care if there are dangers- sharks, or jellyfish, oh whatever! Who cares?!

 

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I’m using a new approach. One that I’m positive will work. It involves realizing that God’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me and knowing it with every sand clogged fiber of my being. God, help me get there.

Is He safe? Not exactly. Does that matter? Not one drop.

Time to jump in.

 

~

Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.

Psalm 139:7-10

He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

Micah 7:19

 

 

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Hold You

This year was one of the hardest of my life.
I learned a lot of about life, what it means to run, and what God really means when He says He’ll never leave us alone.

June Recap 122

The other night I was watching Stargate again (unusual, I know). Daniel, archeologist extraordinaire and sensitive one in the bunch let his emotions run away with him, made some unwise decisions, and landed himself squarely in huge trouble. Thanks to a not-so-helpful princess with a big crush on said archeologist, Daniel gets addicted to an alien coffin that supposedly preserves life. There’s only one catch: the sarcophagus sustains life- at the expense of one’s soul getting slowly sucked out.

Obviously, this is a sizable catch.

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So when Miss Bad News gets Daniel hooked on it- he starts loosing his head- literally. Kind, compassionate, intelligent Daniel Jackson is rapidly disappearing, replaced by a class A jerk who, to his own dishonorable credit, almost leaves his friends to die in a hellish mine.

June Recap 208
By the time his friends convince him to bust them out and get back home, Daniel is not in good shape. Withdraw is kicking in and it’s not a pretty sight for anyone. He’s so desperate to get back to the darn thing they have to restrain him.”I have to get back! I have to get back to the sarcophagus!” Daniel won’t stop yelling, and his friends keep taking care of him. “You can do this, Daniel;” they say, “we’re going to help you get through this. You are going to be okay.”

But his shot brain isn’t buying it.

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I have this somewhat regretful feeling I’ve done this before. With every fabric of my being I want this thing that’s doing it’s best to suck every last drop of life out of me and God is right there saying: I can’t let you do that. It’s hurting you. I want what’s best for you. You’re going to be okay without it. . It hurts but I’m going to see you through this. I promise I’m here.  And I’m like: YOU HAVE TO LET ME HAVE IT. WHY WON’T YOU LET ME HAVE IT? DON’T YOU LOVE ME? HOW COULD YOU LOVE ME AND NOT GIVE ME IT?

Sin is so ridiculously irrational.

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Nearly out of his mind, Daniel runs away- trying to get as far as possible from his friends- the only ones who can keep him from destroying his life and those of the people around him. Jack, who cares way more about Daniel than he’d care to admit- goes right after him.

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Daniel freaks out and hides in an empty room, attempting to escape from the very person trying to save him from more hurt.
Jack follows him and tries to talk some sense into him. “Daniel, come out, we’re trying to help you! You’re going to get better- we all know that! It’s going to be okay…”

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Daniel curls up in a corner- obviously not using whatever is left of his mind.
“You’re trying to kill me…”
“Why would I do that, Daniel?”
Daniel, still heavily under the adverse effects of the coffin goes postal and pulls a gun on Jack.

June Recap 089

“Daniel, I understand.”

Daniel slumps against the wall and cries. Jack gets down on the floor, wraps his arms around Daniel, and holds him.

It only took a matter of seconds for the light bulbs to start super novaing inside my brain.

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“God’s holding you.” I hear it all the time- it’s on the radio, it’s in the songs, it’s on the tips of everyone’s tongues…my life’s saturated with that amazingly small, astronomically gigantic phrase. For so long  it’s just been a vague, watery set of words that somehow connected me with a God up in heaven doing things for my own good.

Until I started to understand.

I’ve been asking God to help me see things the way He sees them…I think the clouds are finally starting to part.

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Holding is holding.

Holding is tight- holding is arms around, strong shoulders soaking up tears that sting and burn. Holding is your exploding head buried in someone else’s rising and falling chest. Holding is raw, holding is close.

Holding is never ever letting go.

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When I was at my saddest, when the earth was falling out from under me, when my heart felt like it was going to drop out of my chest and on to the floor, when I thought I was rejected, hopeless, dead, and so absolutely alone- God was right there. At my very darkest. Even when I couldn’t feel it. Even when I didn’t believe it.

God was holding me. And He had no intentions what so ever of ever, ever letting go.

~

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing… to idols.
Yet it was I who taught [them] to walk; I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them, I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love…”

Hosea 11:1-4

“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

Isaiah 41:13

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

Psalm 36:7

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How Much?

 

How much?

How much love would a person need to have to love someone else completely?

June Recap 171

 

How strong would love have to be to not be influenced by actions against it, by mistakes, by coldness, by apathy, by raw hate, by wrong?

June Recap 219

 

How brave would love have to be to fight with every shred of its being- for someone who was better left for worse than dead?

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I don’t have all those answers.

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But Jesus sure does.

 

~

 

Psalm 103

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As I Was Driving

 

Me: God, You keep telling me over and over again that “I’m not alone”. Fine- show me what that means. Show me what “not alone” means.

 

God: You know what Emmanuel means…? It means we’re never alone.

 

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Importance

 

If I can write with all the majesty and clarity of men and angels, but I don’t have love, I’m just an annoying, disorienting noise.

If I can accurately guess what’s going to happen in the future, and understand all the ins and outs of all the secrets of this world and beyond, and if I believe God so much that I can make mountains move, but don’t have love, I’m absolutely nothing.

If I give up everything I have to save people in need, and if I painfully sacrifice my own life for God’s calling, but don’t have love, I don’t get anything.

Love is willing to wait, love is gentle, love doesn’t hate other people’s blessings, love doesn’t brag or make itself seem better than everyone else.

It doesn’t push its goals in front of others. It’s not touchy or bitter. It isn’t waiting for someone else to mess up and get in trouble; it gets great joy in what is right.

Love waits through everything, holds onto truth in all things, always looks ahead with joy, and never ever gives up strength.

Love never stops.

 

June Recap 135

 

~

 

1 Corinthians 13

1 John 3:14

1 John 4:19

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