Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Lines from April, Part 1

Lord Jesus Christ. Please give me wisdom and grace. I need more than I possess. Can I offer anything to You, or take communion, before we are reconciled? Please speak to my spirit, show me truth.
I want to be obedient to You. And I want long-term health, not just an easing of my conscience. I don't know that I can reach him. But You can, Father. By Your powerful Name, break through.

Maybe I'm blind-boating again.
"My milky mouth, my winter lungs;
don't tell me what cannot be done..."
(Innocence Mission).
You are always guiding.

The other day I noticed a couple walking in sync and thought how beautiful it is for two people - even two unremarkable, middle-aged people - to be so used to one another that they function together unconsciously.
And I've noticed things with Mom and Dad, too. Yesterday Dad said he wouldn't eat lunch, not even soup, because of his headache and how ill he was feeling. Mom heated all the soup anyway, telling me he might change his mind and have broth, at least.
She offered broth to him at the table, and he refused it, but when he went into the kitchen for something, he looked in the pot and said, "Is this the broth?...Maybe I will have some." And Mom gave me a look (amusement, triumph, tenderness).
This morning Dad called Mom to tell her that he was on his way home, and Mr. M would be stopping in with him. He made sure to mention that part. Mom and I laughed about it, because it was clearly more than a warning to prepare mentally for socializing; it was a signal to put on "real" clothes.
(They know each other so well).

Well, I couldn't do it. I am rightly humbled, and I don't want to write in pink.
And I've been repeating these words over the last minute, until I found a thin brown pen.
I thought I was healing. I thought I was letting go.
I think the early morning is part of it, part of why I feel so nervy and weak.
I haven't been guarding myself well today. Have been feeding too much on what isn't good for me.

Why are people like this? "Good" but shallow and untried, or "Wise" but hardened and bitter, or "Beautiful" but terrified and cruel?
You still make me believe You are everything right and lovely, and that I'll have some future worth living.
Keep me open to every painful truth. I want so much to snap shut and pity myself for a while.

This was a merciful day. I woke early enough to paint, "Vulnerability is Courage", and Mom was big-hearted enough to work with me even though I was turbulent, moody and taciturn.
We invited L over for lunch (which Mom shared with me, too): chicken, mashed potatoes, peas, roasted carrots, sourdough rolls, and later some fresh chocolate chip cookies.
We were all a bit off, tired, but it was still worthwhile. The food did us good, and the conversation warmed up. I'm going to miss her.
I took a beautiful sad walk in the rain. Ordered tickets. Got a few things done, barely any art though. The highlight was driving to the R's and going with them and L to see "Dispatches from the Front: 9" in Ambler. It was hosted by Westminster, with free popcorn and drinks, and B had packed us a lovely picnic dinner for the car, so the whole trip seemed like a gift. Food, company and conversation, and such an encouraging and stimulating film. Felt like I was on a family field trip.

Of course it's late now. And I'm still feeling an edge of off-ness, disappointment. But it's OK.
You're real, and doing things, and you can't help giving life and hope and love to people who cling on Your robes. So I'm doing that.
Please help me. Open the way. Plant things in me that You want to grow, start desires and dreams that You want to fulfill in this world, for eternity.
This little brown plot is all Yours.

Went with Papa to run errands, went with Mrs. H to pick up A from the airport, went to G park to wait (and witnessed enough drug dealing that I went to wait at the S's instead, where T and I talked about life & YAs, and prayed).

Praise You for this new stretch of uncharted forest, and room to heal and dream, and feel sick with vulnerability and second-guessing.
You've got to help me with that.
You are such a feast. A love feast. Work up my hunger for You and feed me, feed me.

Thanks for helping me today. Good, cozy home day. SNOW.
"Free" lunch from Mom and Dad, of leftover Nav food. So much MEAT this week I almost couldn't enjoy it!
I went and said goodbye to L. The dogs were so sweet and affectionate. Hard to say goodbye; it just doesn't feel right.
All glory to You, Righteous One. I want to spend my life on You. Use and bless bless bless tomorrow.

Today was punctuated in goodness. Full & rich & long.
Help me trust You. Only You know what that means;
make it wholly realized in us.

Such a different day from yesterday. A good day. A home day, a BB's day. Writing notes, drawing, hula hooping, reading, sharing songs, praying, planning.
Help me not be so preoccupied, with myself or my plans. I'm full of myself, I really am. I'd be praying more, otherwise. Slow me down, Lord.
You'd rather have my attention than my busywork, I know that.
You are my only safety. My mind itself is a frightening place, although I've tried to make it homey. Help me feel Your delight. Spirit, move. Bring revival in me, in us. Kiss us where it hurts.
Please give me a new profile pic, and a new heart. Please give me fruit & vegetables this week, and especially You. Let me down on everything but Your promises. Tenderize my heart for all people. Don't leave me.

Kindly, Kingly One,
Gloria. Here I am at the end of a Wednesday, quarter to midnight, brushed teeth and a contented tummy, AC undulating the makeshift curtain. My Narnia shirt from Creation '05, Indian pants from Orvieto market, undies from the thrift store. More hair on my head than ever since 10.31.14.

Here I am in the lap of love, floating and just feeling the power of the water all around me; I add nothing, I only sense and appreciate.

Thank You for "War Room" tonight; I don't even have the heart to criticize it, because there was so much humbling helpful truth. No. I'll hold my tongue, and praise You, and ask You to move me toward You and make me soft and teachable, so that You can work.

Thank You for Dad buying ice cream for us to share. For the chance to pick up sticks in the yard, and make tandoori noodles and vegetables, and do yoga and write R. Thanks for Mrs. L calling Mom to tell her about C's first grandbaby being lost, and for Mom going up the street with Tulsi tea and a tiny bouquet of violets, to say only "I couldn't stay home" and hug her and cry.
Thank You for prayer with Mom in the hallway tonight, and enough cash to pay J tomorrow, and so much yogurt.
Praise You for truth and confession.

What a year You've brought me through. What a glorious invitation, to be alive.

Today was sweet and rapid. Morning at A's, running errands and talking, praying, eating lunch. I bought frames, and got the portrait board from J. We talked about his baby boy. The emotion of parenting. The noisiness, and fear of harming such a little body. He showed me a gorgeous walnut table with ebony bow ties. We talked briefly about how life-giving it is to do personal, or small-scale projects, rather than big corporate productions. Letting the wood show its beauty, and not spoiling it.

I listened to all the Frances the Badger stories in the car, and felt that warm rise of fondness and nostalgia. Laughed, too, at the wit & goodness of it.
I organized, gessoed, read "Screwtape" with L, walked with Mom, baked bread, and read a little of "Home" with warm buttery slices.

Move me. Lift off the ceiling, show me the stars. Heal my weirdly peeling feet, and make them beautiful with Gospel.
Show me how to behave. How to love these many immortals. How to sense You deeply, delight in You. Jesus. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Lines from March, Part 2

Lord, if I'm honest, I'm pretty fed up right now.
Ready to be angry and sweepingly bitter toward all men. You've got to stop me and help me.
Yesterday was long and rich, from place to place. But conversation really bothered me at points... hearing things or being pushed toward saying things I didn't like. I admit there's pride, and hurt pride, there.
But I long for truth and love.

And then today...ouch. Why does it make me feel like I dodged a bullet, but took a fist to the gut? Insignificance. That's what bothers me.
At least I can extend grace. But help me. I'm too ready to be either a tomb or a hot water bottle. I want to be a woman. Discerning and tender. Make love to my glowering little heart. Make me clear and true and totally at rest in You.

Thank You for taking me through this vulnerable day,
even when I was tired of words.
Thank You for people praying with and for me.
Protect me, but not if it's to the detriment of Your glory. Use me as a light-bearer. But to do that, You've got to keep burning out my darkness. And on this trip, Father, show me how to pray and rest and work, listen and respond, play and laugh. Make this our sweetest time yet.
Daddy, I'm weary. My dreams are weary. Give me Yours.
Love Yourself through me.

Dear Jesus.
Thank You for seeing me through the various steps and confusions of travel to a startlingly quiet haven. To a home in a castle. To a nest of vitality in an inhospitable concrete maze. There are more and better ways to describe this, but thank You.
Last night we had chicken and rice and cucumber-tomato salad, and walked to Fort Tryon park by a round yellow moon, and saw magnolia trees glowing and the bright, 2-tiered G.W. Bridge. Tantrums and tears, walking home. Daffodils massing under trees, in walkway gardens.
We talked late, eating mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Today I got to fold laundry, read, play hide-and-seek, pick imaginary flowers, play I Spy and "Excuse Me, What Are You Doing?" and dance. It's both strange and natural to be here. To have so much history, and yet so little in common in the way of life-season and circumstances. So good to be kindred spirits and know there's that trust and grace. Jesus, help us grow that this week. Really listen and see, and be heard and seen, and keep it all focused on You and coming back to You.
I still feel hungry for Your closeness and security. To not be second-guessing. I am safe with You, my Love.
Feed me Your words, Your True Words. Help me move with grace from moment to moment, to sense what is needed and how I should respond.
Spirit, quicken me.
Maundy Thursday. And I've been barely aware of Holy Week.
Settle me into Your arms that don't get tired.

So much fun to be out and get a taste of life for other families. The air was so fresh. It felt gracious and spring-like.
I wish I could do more to help out, but I do feel wanted and I know it blesses C to have me there to help with the kids, so I don't feel burdensome. It's been lovely to talk, about all sorts of things. We still haven't run out of things, even though we talk ourselves to exhaustion. C makes the best lattes.
So refreshing to be in the Word, even on a screen with background noise and a wandering mind. So good to shower tonight. To have had sweet moments with each child today.
Ah, Lord. Bring to mind what I must recall. Instruct me where I need to grow.
Make my heart humble and secure in You, Jesus. You, who gave everything willingly.

Thank You for this precious day, with so many seasons of activity: reading, singing, dancing, yoga, cooking, drawing, cuddling, pacing with baby. I love these people. I love knowing that we enjoy sharing each other's lives and hearing about the small details of it. And Lord, we want more of You. To be fully devoted, and never apart. Never running on flesh, but on Spirit.
Guide our tomorrow to be a time of enjoying You and worshipping You, of being changed, of loving deeply and patiently and well.
Help us know You for who You are. To know Your heart for the home it is. Make our hearts Your home. Make my heart Your home.
Make me brave and obedient. Fill me with joy in Your presence.

Today was so good; cinnamon rolls and church, resting at home, simple "dinosaur food" supper, talking with C. We saw ~6 rats on the subway. So many good or funny or interesting conversations.
Help me to understand Your welcome, and to extend it.
Thank You for Your loyal love, fresh every morning.

O God, I need Your own words, and yet I can't seem to absorb them. I need Your strength for everything.
You brought me kindly through today, the farewell ("I love you, bay-bay!"), the 4 legs of the trip (including my inappropriately conversational neighbor at 30th Street), the transition back to the studio and the time to talk and look at photos with Mom and Dad.
I'm still reeling a bit from what Mom said, what I may have done. I feel sick. I feel like it's just a sick situation. And I'm having trouble taking all the things that need to be done one at a time, keeping them in perspective.
Jesus, You are true. Even when I am false. When I don't believe You. When I'm too smart for my own good, and really the biggest fool.
Show me, again, Your face.
Romance me through this week, romance and more. Grant me another day of life, if You see fit, for Your glory.

Well, Lord. Wow.
Thank You for bringing me through today, with nothing much to show for it. Nothing to show but Your goodness. Helping me get a little work done, finish Solhzenitsyn (rats, I was hoping I got it right! Still messed up. Switch the h & z), take a walk.
Walking...that was lovely.
N asked for prayer about asking M out, and now they are dating. Whoosh.
But I'm pretty frustrated about tonight. Not as bad as it could be, it's laughable, but sad. It's hard not to make snap judgments. Forgive me, the flake.

It's been a special day. I see that now. Sleeping "in" (no prayer meeting for this insomniac), making pancakes, doing little chores and making progress, making meatballs.
Driving to Camp, and having such a deep dear time with C, catching up, sitting at a picnic table in the sun. I played the song for her, and she cried. And she said such meaningful things to me, I almost couldn't absorb it. Lord, provide for them. Steady them in this season.

B and I had a good long talk after I got home. That helped. Father, please please bring truth and love. Wholeness, not division and strife. There is so much sin, so much poison. It scares me. Bleed us of it, bleed over us, make us wail at Your love and suffering. We still don't understand what it does to You.

Most of the day I've been prepping things for the coffee shop show. Mom and I went out for frames and things, and I was able to find 7 workable ones. It feels good. As we drove back, I felt a wash of gratitude and vitality. I'm thankful I get to be an artist.
Life is riddled with wonders, when I'm ready to see them.
Jesus, thank You.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Lines from March, Part 1

Dearest Savior.
Thanks for reminding me again today of what You've earned for me, that I can't earn or replicate.

Fill me up on You.
Thanks for the small steps in creativity today, and the gift of being home
for this season.

How good it is to just be Yours tonight. To know You have given me beauty I have nothing to do with.

But please create in me a clean a heart. Give me a gentle & quiet spirit.
A fearless, loving spirit.
Thanks for dancing with me through today. The beauty of this fluid life.
Accomplish Your will, for Your glory, in the Name of Jesus.
With D I say, ANYTHING for You, Jesus.

I'm having a hard time with steadiness today. Sleeping in has its downsides -
I feel like I've accomplished next to nothing so far.
Remind me there is grace for this?
Help me follow after You with the rest (and the work, heh) of this day.

I need to wake up satisfied with Your likeness more often. Right now it's too easy to settle for the dream of a man. Help me in my mind and thoughts. Never let me cut You out of my imaginings; come into them with me, guide them and purify them.

Thank You, God. I'm all crumply and choky with gratitude and tears. This was You, J texting and calling, our conversation over the last hour. Lord, You are so good to answer our prayers and even our unspoken desires. Keep opening doors for her.

Jesus, thank You for this heavily peopled day. Help me accept it.
Make me an oasis of rest and trust. Protect us. Chasten and encourage us.

The Psalter readings for this morning are spot-on. Thanks.
And thanks for a sweet and insightful evening yesterday at L's wine &
cheese party.
I think I can pull off swanky pretty well. But I don't think I want to. Help me be a small bird today, to be meek and aware. Fill me with love.

Thanks for a walk with Papa.

Thanks for all these Psalms, which are too rich and good. Thank You for showers of love today, S's  money gift, card from A, hugs galore from L.
A cozy feeling, and the feeling of being beautiful and wanted. It's strange.
Take all of me. Do all the things You promise. Help me trust & rest.

Thank You, Daddy. Praise You.

This morning it was relief and gratitude and a little sadness. Now it's dull ache and distractedness. It's not bad, really; not miserable or despairing, but it's not exactly pleasant. It just is, and I need to let it come. Thanks for being with me.

Help me know what to say. Heal me, too.

Lord, I'm so pissed, and I don't want to be.
Work it out of me, please.

I don't even know where to start. Today... I'm alive again. Raspy rough lungs all day, but warmth, unbelievable spring gentleness in the air, and dawn and sunset, and music, and good work done, and listening and talking, and laughter.

Blueberries and milk. Prayer in the AM with C and the Es. Coffee with H.
Lovely ride home, windows down. Painting and lunch and reading Narnia with Mom and Dad. More resting and sketching and painting. Talking with C, while I walked on the deck or around the septic cap outside, for more than an hour. C is such a good one to talk with - can make things relatable/understandable, even complicated information. With facts and intelligence. And enthusiasm.
Love that man.
Thank You for Your exuberant life when I'm at the utter end of myself. Prepare me to be with You. Help me do whatever You have for me to do.

Lord, take my life.
Bless You for Your love and the love of the people in my world.

In Your mercy, hear us.

Thank You for the feast of frosting that a birthday is. Too much. And not enough. And necessary.
I am nothing but a recipient of grace... "thank You" is a lumpy response. I have the feeling You'd be happiest if I just quietly crawled into Your lap and fell asleep there. Help me do that. And be my wind VeRU'AH all day tomorrow in the city & the train & the station & the gallery, and every place my mind wanders. I'm bleeding and ill with love and need of You.

Thank You for a good - if weird - day. To Philly, encaustic demo at McCleaf, lunch, catching up with R. All the young Saint Paddy's pubbers, bouncing around in glittery green or trudging with watery eyes. The girls in the subway talking about how church is affecting someone they know (he's losing weight, getting support, it's better than drugs, but not for everyone. And who says you need Jesus? What could He add? Are you less of a person without Him?). The teenager touching people intentionally in Suburban Station. Giving clementines and a granola bar to homeless men. Reading John 13-15 and Solzhenitsyn. Coughing foully. And starting my cycle at the gallery - thanks for helping me realize it was more than the bizarre rectal bleeding I've been having over the last week.

Maybe I didn't write anything I meant to. Jesus, there are so many needs. Show me You are truly here. Help us run TO YOU, not away. I'm getting all spidery and doubtful again, right after so much love and sunshine.
Heal me from the inside out. I'm thinking in circles about so many things, and need Your help so I don't lose balance. Hold us all.

Daddy, take this day now. Wash out the guilt, meet me in my loneliness. Help me stop trying to prove myself. Let me just be. Help me own Your freedom, grace. I'm Yours.

What a wonderful place to be; in K's spare oom, arranged and lit for me on my arrival, after helping at the church yard sale and stopping at Friendly's with the gang. I felt a bit off - like I couldn't quite connect. I could manufacture excuses if I wanted to. But mostly, I just want to accept and rest. It's OK, even though I'm not the Savior. BECAUSE I'm not.
Please make me a blessing this week. Breathe Your lion's breath of love and courage and holy desire on me. I'm so full of contradictions, selfishness and worship. Help me worship You, my God, whatever that looks like tonight, tomorrow.
Thank You for friends.

Dear Heavenly,
Thank You for making this day beautiful, and helping me see some of it, and hopefully make it more so.
Got up early to eat cereal with K before she left, then went back to bed. Got up around 10:15, second breakfast, shower, walking R. I washed dishes for a while, it felt so good. In the afternoon I managed a little work on S's commission, and tried the new mic. It's incredible. Gloria.

K and I ate in the car on the way to her orchestra practice. Thank You for the trust and confidence we have in this friendship. Thank You for her transparency.

I need You, simply to pray I need You. It's paralyzing, but You're big enough for us. Show us Your face, even if that means hiding Your hands.

Keep healing me. This is hard. I still want to cling to shreds, to imagine the destiny of it all holding some sway. But everything will come into play. You waste nothing. I don't have to force the rest of it, it's never been my story to begin with. Remind me of this when I'm turning bitter or self-pitying. Your goodness is evident in every step, already. Glory to You, Lord Christ.

Thank You for the intricate heart of Calvary Church, all the beauty and belonging in its corners. The time and space and safety to read, walk laps, just rest and listen. Or sit out in the mulch, against the wall, singing as the sun sank.

Your arms surround me
I feel my shame wash away
as You love me with the strength of the sea
and all of me just wants to love You back

YOU, no man, hold first sway in my heart. YOU are my inspiration, my wonder and passion.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Lines from February, Part 2

Hallelujah. Jesus, I'm full of longings and I'm sensitive - I don't say over sensitive, but sensitive. Ground me.
Thank You for so many sweetnesses today, planned and unplanned. Rain dissolving the snow. Sunlight. A dance party with Mom. Dad sharing crackers.
You're the best.
I keep getting invited places... VA, CA, SC, and now GA from Mrs. L.
And of course KY...oh, brother. It's beautiful and flattering and overwhelming.
My only planned trips so far are NYC and MA. And right now, I just want to be home. Want to get some real good work done, and get rid of the excess. Want to drink in great draughts of the knowledge available to me, of the nourishment & inspiration.
And already there are so many needs...that accident today that blocked 30 must have been terrible. N saw it happen. Please help him sleep tonight.
And Maidan - those images are so fresh, I loathed the slapstick body-throwing of "Wipeout" tonight. Sometimes all I want to do is wrap people in my arms and just kiss them and calm them. Or weep. We're not meant for all this brutishness. And yet it's fact, and it's in me too. Give me strength and tenderness. Your sap for my limp limbs.

And help me get over myself more often, and not be so self-conscious. Help me risk for You - if everyone really does like me, it doesn't speak well of my stance on truth. Right? Or am I echoing the combative people I disagree with? Merh.
You said as much Yourself. Make me a true prophet.

Kind Lord.
Today was my first "Conflict Resolution" day and I don't know how well it went...
I ate lunch (the first half, anyway) in my room watching a BrenĂ© Brown talk on shame, rather than at the table with strife. I don't know if that helped anything or made it more uncomfortable. I can do that sometimes.

Thanks for a lovely day anyway. A full walk, though shod. Spontaneous invite from K, which gave us the chance to catch up and make plans for staying over next month.
Thank You for library books and stollen with Dad, for spots of sunlight, for the feeling of sloppy gesso brushed against a board. I've missed this.
Do amazing things through me, Almighty God. Get all the glory. Don't You give up on me.

P.S. Wanted to say that I remember distinctly 2 parts of my dreams last night: cleaning the bathroom, and trying to commit suicide in an old barn by drinking cow's, chicken's, and pig's blood in plastic cups, crushing the whole thing into my mouth. I think I'd managed to stuff down one of each before Mom and Dad found me. So then, of course, I stopped and was safe.

Today I discovered I have a savings bond from Grandpa, from April '91. For $50.
Oh, Daddy, wrap me in a bear hug. Siphon out all these polluted thoughts and this boundishness - I've not been very focused on my work today. Balked at everything focused and intensive.
But thanks for morning prayer with Mom and Dad, and the confidence that You use this lumpy stuff to make something useful and beautiful in the end.
Lord, You're more, and You want to be more, than I'm letting You be.
Unfold to me. Give me eyes to see the farthest constellations in You.

I feel like I've been SO UNPRODUCTIVE today. It's highly irritating.
At the same time, it's a good reminder.
If I forget these things, remind me. Thanks for last layers of gesso, first pages of Solzhenitsyn, mixtape poems coming together. Thanks for Father Brown and tomfoolery with Dad - "Year tea! Millisecond tea!" (weak tea).
For a baby with a name. For train tickets.
Thanks for S's prayers (and how she wants Your guidance, and how ready she is to sew clothes for orphans).

Show us Your face. I'm stupidly eager for it. A terrible, distracted, whining hunter, but a hunter nonetheless, and I must find You.
Please play hide and seek like little P? Tell me where You're hiding. Hide there over and over. Make noise if I'm playing dumb.
Because You really want to be found, don't You?
Use all this more than I can imagine.
Put Your words in me.

Quarter of midnight.
Today was a contra day, but I didn't go. Sort of a let-down. But by the end I was thankful. It was a good day, off as I felt for part of it. The dogs were pretty good. Saw a possum in the front yard on my way over. It looked like some homely little huddled mutt at first, but it walked away with a sticky, slow gait and the tail was ratlike, and the face shone ghostly.
I gave it time and a wide berth. I don't imagine they attack people generally, but I conjure up images of ugly teeth.

Well, outside today was so sweetly overpowering. Beauty everywhere on my walk - sunset on one end, rising gibbous moon on the other. Such a fresh sky. I am small and have garlic breath and a lot of dirty thoughts. I don't suppose the gouging principle applies to brains?
I'm sorry. Jesus, I need to take this seriously. I am so deeply prideful and disdainful. Forgive me, Lord. I want to change.
Help me know how to pray for J. The things You want, not just things I can tell him or look back on like prophecy. This is about You. Help him see clearly, truly, with Your love that doesn't sugar coat, but allows us to see with grace (the only real way).

I hate the role women play in war.

Finally visited the catalpa today. Gave taxes a little effort, though I still seem to feel my brains oozing out when I sit down to worksheets. Dad is a big help. Too big a help. I'm dependent.

The Weepies's "Gotta Have You" was in my head randomly yesterday, so I looked it up today. So catchy. And applies in Your case. I really can let go of anything else. HELP ME do it. I have nothing that I did not receive. Here I am, afraid again. Speak deep peace to me. You've won me; satisfy me. Show me what faithfulness looks like. I love You. You love me more.

Happy Birthday, brother! Oh, J. Ah! He lights up my life.
Mom told me she asked God what she should pray for me this morning, and His answer was, "a whole heart." That means a lot right now, especially since I mentally said, "This is breaking my heart" about the Ns this morning. And the church situation makes me feel so split and sad. And Syria... God, make my heart whole and steady.
Make this day count. I kind of just want it over. Stop me.
Help me match Your stride.

O Lord. I've just been weeping over "Winter on Fire", and now again, on hearing that A & N are engaged! O Father. 3+ years ago we started praying for him daily (though I haven't kept it up for 2 1/2).
But Your hand...somehow You make beauty out of ashes. Dry bones. Dead dead. O God, make us live! Ukraine, and their marriage, and make me someone You can use, not a delicate useless thing but a strong and beautiful one. Help me not give in to fear or bitterness.
Make my heart ever more like Yours, soft and quick to forgive, merciful and ready to sacrifice, because justice is costly. You paid it all.
O Lover.

My Dear. Thank You... it's been a full last 29 hours (so specific!). Thank You for the safety You gave last night to the Steve Taylor Trust Talk and back. Thanks for good time with B and time to reconnect with others.
But that feeling of celebrity was a little tiresome, especially from the outside. It felt like a bunch of 40/50-year-old hipsters - grateful they knew what was cool before it was cool. I'm not being fair. I'm probably just jealous. But that's how it felt. Wished it had been more of a lecture, or more intimate, or just less like a fan club's walk down memory lane. Oh well. There were good aspects, for sure. I'm glad we went.
Some of the parts I found most helpful were, "Good work makes its own way", "~Asking questions and being non-judgmental invites people", "~If we are students of the Bible, we don't need to write propaganda...the mind of Christ will permeate the work", "~God is the source of the gifts, we give them back to Him."
I guess those are a lot of good things.
Thanks for music with N this afternoon. Mom singing "Sadie Hawkins Dance" WITH US. Never thought that would happen. :)

Make tonight a night of pure delight. Feast us on Your goodness. Remind us that we are not alone. Help us to be put at ease in Your presence. Help me to be at peace, in good humor, ready for whatever. Help us all engage with each other. May each person feel wanted and loved. May each one hear or experience something personally meaningful. Make this a night of laughter.

Christopher Columbus, what richness.
I've just been sipping red wine and reading John 1 (half reading, half reciting). It's been a visity sort of day, wonderful and dizzying. Got a few things done this morning, but just as much is built up to do.
Help me paint tonight, and touch You. Please use me more and more for only good. Show me where and when and how to give & love. I'm bad at it. But make me free, help me just trust You with whatever I'm able to do.

Thank You, Lord, for Psalm 132. And for this wonky night, fitful sleep, because it still reminds me You want me.
Whoosh. Help me settle out again. I was telling A last night that the last week has really helped me relax, breathe, because I don't have to be on the edge of my seat, I know I'm not going to hear anything today or tomorrow. And I can pray.

Lord, Your words convict me. I want to hear Your word and keep it. I want to be with You and not against You, gathering, not scattering. But I feel in myself this desire to have done with it. To do some dramatic thing that will prove my devotion but in reality absolve me of any further obligations. Giving everything at once, and blindly, is harder than moment by moment, piecemeal. Easier to say, "Everything is Yours!" than trust You when You take a tooth, an eye, my fertility... but all of these are Yours; I don't want to pretend that I belong to myself anymore. I want safety and comfort, it's true. But please give them to me ONLY through You. Remind me.

I'm so chronically self-absorbed. But I trust that You're growing me, and even where I'm pathetically behind, there's grace. Use all of me. Increase.

Leap year. What an interesting day. 4 years ago I was in Italy. Tomorrow begins March, which feels scarily like spring, which leads to summer, and the year will be half over...
"Slow me down, Lord."
This was a very good day. Homey, punctuated with solid work and some chores and sweet down time. Walking with Mom. Eating a clementine slowly, stretched out on the couch in the sun. Stitching a hook and eye into my "new" dress from A. Reading chapter 1 of "The Book of Three." And polishing three pairs of shoes and a purse. Chatting with A just now.

Lord of Hosts, express me. Clarify me. Drink me up. I'm so thick with everything... people, mostly. Wants. Too many things. Shifty vision. I want to really know You. Nobody else is right. I'm not right.
I feel this stubborn fear rising up in me again. This wish to be in some other moment. But this is all I have. Help me dig with a will into it, into You, to trust You with my haphazardness.
Please Yourself.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Lines from February, Part 1

Her house was a haven. Isaiah 54 was a kiss. 50-54 just now.
Show me how to enlarge, and give, and do justice, and bless, and trust.
Show me Your face. Pace me. Sweeten me.

Only do what leads me to You. Anything else is idol, is sin, is loss.
There would be relief, as well as rejection, disappointment, pain, in being told "no". But hearing nothing scares me. Feeling trapped. Waiting is the great test, isn't it? And what will I do when I hear? While I wait?
How can I choose the cross and freedom?
Grow me into what You want me to be. Help me to think, and feel. And be still and know. And obey, joyfully.
There is so much possibility and thrust in me right now. Direct me, use this warm, sharp energy.
If I take myself from Your table to write my own story, burn it. You have my permission. I must have You.
Oh, Velita. Kyrie.

Last night it was,
"God has allowed in the lives of each of us some sort of loss, the withdrawal of something we valued, in order that we may learn to offer ourselves a little more willingly, to allow the touch of death on one more thing we have clutched so tightly, and thus know fullness and freedom and joy that much sooner." (Elisabeth Elliot)
"I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ." (Phil. 3:8)

And this morning it was Psalm 16:6-8.

You had ways of preparing me. I was somewhat prepared. Thank You. Hearing about E was the the hardest part of today. And even that, You know. But I feel small, weak. Couldn't really handle "Tenerife Sea". More like "John My Beloved".
Sending the song today...was it right? It was prayed over, and done, almost mechanically. More like, "I may never have another chance" than "I mean this".
I don't mean it in the same way, now. We're past passionate declarations and glowing praise. We're tired and wise. Heh, I don't know about wise. Unsure, conservative maybe. This isn't the end, but it's a kind of withdrawal. Talking brightly to the child who's fallen, hoping the scratches weren't much, and the tears can be averted in the confusion.
Yes, that's almost exactly what it's like.
If only children weren't so practiced in crying anyway. 

But what this comes down to, what I wanted to say, Lord, is I know You're there, I know You're weaving, I feel You wanting me, and I'm thankful. I want to respond, to worship You somehow, in this small fertile shadow.
I want, I need, to laugh.
I dreamed this years ago; the joke's not on me.
I mean, it is, which is why I should be able to laugh.

But I feel so much more capable of causing hurt than I did last week. I makes me afraid, like I should hide. Don't let me. Take me with You out into the air; there is hurt everywhere. There is life everywhere. I am needed.
But I don't want to do anything right now. I just want to ride on Your shoulders under leaves. Smell the sun on Your head and feel You rise and fall.

Keep everything safe for me, I might discard it in a fit.
Use it more than I can imagine.
Please, make Yourself more in this, in him, in me.

Thank You for placing me here: here in this place, with these people.
And these books.

Meet all of us here. In Your power. Right now. I am sick with hunger for You.

Why do I feel so awful? Sad is too sad for me. Happy is too happy. I must be avoiding You - where? Why aren't we OK? What's making me second-guess myself and feel like a cheap novel? Why are my words always pompous or puerile?
There are blue zits of pride on my neck yet (that was such an awful dream). Cleanse me from the inside out. I want to sing again. Thank You for today's songs, but they're already flat and repulsive.
I need sleep and soil and some attempt at courage again.
I need to depend on You, I guess.
You're generous and forgiving. You don't rub it in. How - ?
Give me a fresh start tonight. Lay me down in security. Show me what needs to be done in the meantime. My Trust. Show me Your holiness and vigor and inescapable resurrection.

"O tarry thou the Lord's leisure; be strong, and he shall comfort thine heart; and put thou thy trust in the LORD." - Ps. 27:16

Don't let me become fearful or obstructive. Make me true. Show me my heart, and Yours mostly.

Thank You, Kindest.
My first bite of bear. Huckleberry pie: A+. And best embarrassing moment: "Hey stranger! ...Oh, you really are a stranger...I'm sorry, I thought you were someone I know." Still laughing. He was cool with it.
Thanks for Papa loving me, and Mama loving me, and H's GREAT SPECTACULAR MIRACULOUS news about going to see R! You. You're just the best. Remind us of this. Thank You for allowing me to play some small part.
Thanks that it's now tomorrow, and the Sabbath. For L's shared article about "Everything Doesn't Happen For A Reason" and the things it taught me. Or reminded me of. Or highlighted to me, by contrast.

I am very frail, very impatient. And lazy. But hungry for You.
This waiting is a strange sweet knitting of us. Sometimes like nausea, and sometimes like flying. All the terror and the glory of it.
Blegh. I don't think there are any good words when I reach this point.

I want to be asleep, but I want to write. Because life is so painfully sharp & beautiful. My own hands move me. The punctuation of my wall clock. Warm light of the lamp by my bed. Are there any mistakes? Does everything happen for a reason, or do You just recycle before we can blink?

Keep teaching me grace. I'm not very patient with clutter, or worry, or talkativeness right now. But You are.
I'm not brave enough to drive right now. But You are.
My prayers are feeble things, like sleep-talking. Help me.
As I replied to N today, it's hard to overestimate prayer. Because we can't overestimate You, can we?

Thanks for the shopping today. Cookies for A. Parsley for me. Cherry pie from Mom tonight. And back massage from Dad yesterday evening, while Mom kept exclaiming over the sunset and telling me to look.
I don't want to miss these small gifts. Clemmies, and leftover chicken dinner, and Lila. The feeling of cutting old apples for applesauce. It's a beautiful experience... methodical, ceremonial, deft. The kind of thing you watch someone doing out of pure love & awe.

I need Your inspiration. Take over my schemes and make them better, and help me laugh and jump in.

I had time to make Valentines and help Mom with preps for the party. I admit I'm dreading the stress of packing and setup. Help me.
Your love is so so good. Fill my tired body and refresh my spirit tonight. Unite my heart to fear Your Name.
Keep me in mind of the ashes all day, even before they're imposed. Make holy the ordinary.

Parties like this are a mighty muscle-ful, the kind that makes me belligerent. But it's done, it's over, and it was a beautiful thing. Thanks for giving Mom faith I didn't have. And for carrying us through. Extravagance and costly love...they really do matter, even if part of me screams, "Waste!" and "Bother!"
Help me not live that way. I want a generous heart. I want to gush sweet cherries, not bleach, when you squeeze me.
Actually, both of those sound gross.
But what I mean is, I see the things that come out of me under pressure, and most of them are selfish, critical, and shallow. Thanks for the grace anyway.
Thanks for the joy on E's face and the pleasure these women had in celebrating her and enjoying pretty, delicious things. Thanks for the men who supported us and did so much grunt work.
Saturate tonight, Holy Lover. Savior. Friend.

Dad burned a scrap of paper for the ashes he imposed tonight. On it he wrote a prayer: "May God reward your love for Him."

Tried to write music and it was half-baked. But I had a good talk and prayer with Mom.

"Charge me to see in all bodies the beat of spirit."
Richard Wilbur, "The Eye"

Lord, thank You for Your endless mercy. I don't need to impress anyone.

Lord, show me the fellowship of Your suffering. Thank You for calling me out these last few nights, keeping me from sleep so we (have to?) dialogue. Thank You for showing me that I needed to say yes, and helping me say it. But You see, we both see, where I still hold back, distrusting myself, wanting painfully not to lie, like my child self unwilling to sign the card "Love," or tell A that I liked my beanie baby. Did I? Truly?
But this covenant rests on You. My small yeses have very little play in the matter and its fulfillment.
So, yes, help me live the rest of this achy day fully devoted, shedding & preparing inwardly, outwardly. Sin and uterine wall, sentimental idols. Cleave. My Soul.
Build in me compassion and the patience needed to understand - "help" can be so destructive, but I must do something. Mustn't I?
I feel myself wearing down a bit. Wanting to haggle with You for just, something more. Some clarity. But You've shown me enough, You truly have. To last for the rest of my life, if I'd only remember it.
Take me piece by piece. This life belongs to no one but You. I can't save myself or preserve myself for anyone else's comfort or expectation. The fact is, You can do with me whatever You will, and whatever it is, Your love will be in it.

How appropriate. 2 Chronicles 15 & 16... Asa's reign. Let me seek You wholeheartedly, Jesus. Help me find you. I'm too piecemeal and paralyzed right now, I need the passion and focus of a lover.
You alone save, and You can save with anything.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Lines from January, Part 2

Today was one of those days in which I almost made a list of complaints. Mostly petty. But whatever it was, the single-digit weather or my disappointed womb or the emotional hangover from yesterday, I felt all wrong. Morbid and unlovely, like some Raskolnikov. Didn't he take a perverse pleasure in repulsion of the simple & good? Mother-love, affection, friendship, lunch -- pet names and childish habits (in oneself and in others) become odious in these moods.
Ha. Haha.
The day was successful anyway. Chores, shopping, cookies mostly unburnt,
a sketch, C mailing my packages. Gracious. Holy Jesus. Fly in the face of my moping and pomposity. Kiss me black & blue.

Father, thank You. HJ & A are ENGAGED. And I'm hope. ha. home with stomach flu. And it's OK.
I love You.

I will say yes to You
I know You'll see me through whatever landscape lies ahead.

Today feels like two days, and words are limp.
A was just singing lullabies to C, who went home a little while ago, still very sick but at least with some Gatorade and chicken broth in him. Making chicken soup & Mom's whole wheat bread was a highlight of the day. The many stages, colors, smells, sounds. And it was good.

A & I finished "The Magician's Nephew", aloud to C.
The shopping trip was difficult. I felt on edge and fumbly the whole time I was driving. And those emotional undercurrents got so strong by Aldi, I almost snapped. It wasn't good.
God, help me not bottle emotions or entertain bitter thoughts. Sometimes it's hard to know when concern becomes pride. I mean, whether trying to please is people-pleasing, fear of man.

Nevertheless, I have had such sightings of You today as still make me quiver.
Bother. Words.
Your wind. You want me. You must not stop, because I am so foolish. I will forget. Love me like You did with the wind today, and the leaning sun, and the oak leaves roaring like the ocean.
I still hear it.
I can't - shouldn't - come out, but my spirit wants to jump out of my skin.
Why aren't we one yet?
Did I eat too much honey?
Even Your armadillo blessing I received clumsily. And nothing good is enough. I'm all pieces and hopes, texts and letters, hugs and sentence prayers (or run-on sentence prayers) and a string of verses in John 1.
And what about the lady in the parking lot? Should I have driven her home?
Your kids must all be birds, because Your words are rocks. I want to eat them, so please grow me a crop.
Please anchor me and pin me up, low and lofty. Help me care only about Your opinion. NO human approval supersedes Yours. Doesn't matter.
I want the real stuff. Don't let me get cloudy and acceptable. Don't leave me to eat my regurgitated words. Pour Yourself into me, like some holy colon cleanse.
Show me all the open space in You. Open up everything in me (and I'm too self-protective -- still!).
Only Jesus.

I feel like this is an, "I have the write (right, ha!) to remain silent..." moment. I don't trust myself.
And I'm still weak and trembly.
But, I don't want to miss this, either. This chance to say, thank You for answering prayer. You know what we need when we need it. You know how to make us ready. Help me not be overcome by anything but You. Sift our words with me - J's and mine - such a torrent of them over the last 3 hours, and now silence, and thought, foolishness and giddiness and peace. Where am I? What happened? Was that me, is this real?
I don't know what to feel, but I'm...thankful.
And calling Mom and Dad now.

Lord, the Psalter readings today are so fitting. Thanks. Unless You build the house... and You grant sleep. Please grant me the kind I need tonight.
And steady, and ready me. I got ~3 hours last night. But thanks for that ~35 minute moss rest, out in the woods by C's other cabin.
The sun. The gentle wind. The susurration of leaves. And I was warm, and molded to the ground in tiredness. Sweet blue sky, and bare branches, with something like buds. This is a time to live in, and trust.

Rilke's "Exposed on the cliffs of the heart" became especially fitting. So many things did. Berry quotes I copied, things A said, my own songs... "Grow within this womb of clarity, God does no thing in halves."
I have what I need to live and go on. Even though I dread and anticipate a reply. Even though I feel like I've been split open and the insides are all hanging out of me, and I must seem very simple and hypocritical. As much as I want to think I'm special and will get special consideration/treatment, I have no guarantee. I think my trust will be tested. I think it ought to be -
but help me, Jesus, to put my trust in You.

D once told me You would never let me down. Prove Your power, the reputation You have for resurrection. Wash us with Your love.
This is a good place to be, small and vulnerable, but receptive, waiting. Nestled against You. Don't let me waste this. This time when everything is open and somehow possible, when I can be remade.
Guts. And glory.

Mi Querido.
Thank You for Genny's message, and Your deep love.
For sunlight so bright my face is crinkly and pink in places. For that hour in the sun with A. And our prayers. And crafting for the banquet. And yoga. And favor, somehow; a Facebook 15 minutes. Eh, that's not the point. I mean, that You moved people through the song You gave me. Thank You.
And You even saw my petty half-wish for a new profile pic, and provided one today. Such a one, I don't think I know myself. Am I really that free and joyful? I want to be. To claim You.
Keep healing.
C and A wanted to be astronauts. They took a trip to outer space tonight.

Help me be patient. Missouri weather's changeable, and so are my emotions. I don't really regret anything, not that...but I'm sorry all the same. Felt pretty heavy and sad today, still hearing nothing, feeling like an amateur, an idealist.
Not suited to real living.
Whatever that means.
Feeling conventional and shallow, let's say. Very white and safe and pitiable. Very female.
I'd better stop, this isn't edifying.
Please give me some useful things to do and some more beauty tomorrow. More of You.
Give me eyes to eternity and the spiritual battles raging, and not a magnifying glass to my own navel.
Betelgeuse. My brothers. The postal service. Life is full of glories.
I love You, Holy One. I bloody love You.

Help me to remember Psalm 139 all day today.
Use me for Your pleasure.

Oh, I needed that four-wheeler ride. Fear and faith, wild beauty. Wind and laughter. That rush of air, and tears streaming along our faces, and hair stiff with dust by the time we got home.

Console me, center me. The first flush is fading, and I'm tired and uninspired.
Craft us some great ship for sailing in. Thank You for the love of my friends. Help me pray. And carve out rest for me tomorrow.

The walls are bare now. "Nor can foot feel, being shod."
No, I'm actually barefoot. On my bed, feeling too awake and calm to be leaving tomorrow. I don't know when the tears will come.
Thank You for the strength You gave me today, that was no less a miracle than anything.
And sweet goodbyes.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Ekphrasis on an Old Cucumber


Kissing cucumber.
(Perhaps the most unattractive kiss I've seen in a while).
Yellow like mango flesh.
Spotted with green, nobs of white and brown.
blind and hungry
firm and rubbery
soft at the end, brown as caramel.
Pouting. Duckface. Jowls.
saffron pufferfish
deflating balloon egg yolk
shriveled head.


Warty (acne?)
faint scrapes & scars.

Flower-end. There I dropped my flower.
Little scabby hole. Belly button.
Lateral veins.

Black spots forming.
Withering a bit. Wrinkles appearing.
Sad and deflated, aware that "no one wants me"?

Or secretive and hissing out gassy, quiet
laughter? "I have seeds; nobody knows."

Such an agreeable size and shape. Like something
you'd give a child to hold.
Or grasp in the palm just to feel it.


This cucumber is monstrous and yellow.
That is, in part, because I picked it too late,
and then allowed it to begin decomposition
on a chair in the kitchen
for about 3 weeks.

Unfortunately, most of my cucumbers met this fate.
Invisible or puny green things
that progressed immediately, it seemed,
to a kind of golden yellow horror,
bitter and tough-skinned and seedy.

I've been imagining it pouting and grimacing at me.
I'm trying to see things another way.

Mom says,
"It's too bad they gave up so soon."


It's like the great, damp, steamy nose
of some animal.

Looking at it makes me want to sniff sharply.

White mold is growing in some of the crevices.
In some of the pores as well.

Everything seems to be centering into that
brown rotting end/nose/mouth/nipple.
Curling in on itself.

That festering end is soft as raw chicken,
but the rest of the cuke is firm still.
Tensed up and holding it in, even though constellations
of gray mold are showing,
translucent, through the skin.


Snowy, milky, foaming in the folds

                      is mold.

It is a cascade now, this rotting,
     gaining momentum
        gathering an avalanche.

Tending to disorder -
what happens to a rotten

Do the black spots, like flattened
fruit flies, cluster and darken
all the flesh, until it moulders
into earth?

         Will it reek?

Will this color, approaching "pumpkin",
ever succumb
                       to brown?


Hello, baby. Hello, warthog,
skunk cabbage, kangaroo. Yo,
potpourri lychee.
Witch of the Waste's nose.
Underside of a tongue,
a humpback whale.
Hail, King Midas.
Everywhere gold.


There is a mouth. It has withered
smoker's lips, cracked from
puckering. Sagging from slow

Even the cheeks are sallow, age-spotted.
These freckles use to be cute,
and now look cancerous.

Does death make us rabid,
foaming at the mouth?

Because here it is a settled
dissent, a disapproving scowl, a last
attempt at showing mortality
disgust and then

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Lines from January, Part 1

There's been too much to write about.
The wedding (contra was miraculous), driving to MO yesterday, and even today with its myriad small adjustments, joys. I love being here. This is right.
A and I had tea, fruit, eggs, and popcorn for breakfast. Popcorn left for us by the neighbors, along with other treats, a sweet note, and a booby trap of balloons and confetti.
A said, "This is the kind of thing that makes me think I can do this."

We shopped today. I almost got us in an accident. But we were fine (thanks). We locked ourselves out the first time we left the house; C came to rescue us, i.e. finagle the deadbolt (we had the key, it was just tricky).
Today a man in Walmart on a motorized wheelchair warned us, "Better watch out! Quarter-mile-an-hour!"

Thank You Jesus. Reading Narnia, Psalm 19, my old entries, and listening to "Seated With Christ" were glimmerings of You today. As were sunlight and a tiny grasshopper picking his way across the living room carpet. And J's song. And E's good news. And F's text. Ah, Christo.

I miss my brothers. Thank You for J's softness Saturday night. For C's message tonight. Make him into a very good cheese.

Dear Jesus, please give me wisdom. Amen.

Dearest to me,
Remind me (how) to talk with You. Remind me (how) to listen. Help me be like Abel, giving You my best, all of me, not the scraps. Remind me what Your love is really like. Show me fire & water & mountain air. Gather me, scatter me, pierce my ears. As with slaves of old, I want Your awl. But marry me. Help me call You Husband, not Master. Help me bring You good, and delight in You, all my days.

He bought her a piano.

Everything is going to whiz by. Everything IS whizzing by.
But thanks, Lord, that You're in it. Thanks for what You are teaching me. Wean me from worthless things. Give me invincible joy in You and in all things from You, toward You.
Thanks for A & A and their family. Thanks for a great night with them, soup, bread, lemonade, blueberry pie and ice cream, shooting handguns, playing Wii, fooling around with smartphones, LOTS of storytelling and laughter and cuddly kids.

Thanks for moodiness and quietness today, some progress, but also some be-ing. Emotions are coming back to me quietly.
I didn't realize how suppressed I was.
Keep teaching me, my Soulmaker.

Thanks for a barefoot ramble and prayer for Tripoli today.

Thank You that A prayed and read and decided "Yes" today,
and that I could affirm it.

Thank You for miraculously making the shortbread cookies stick together.
And for giddy wine and laughter, and safety.
3rd day of yoga, and some lame hip-hop.
Singing "Worthwhile Snack" in the shower.

Thanks that A is going to get her finger sized, and that C had a zip tie, ribbon, and string in his back pocket, and that I still don't know how to spell exercise and I'm embarrassed about my poor math skillz. Corrected an addition fail on my old grocery list. Pride is a bigger problem than faulty addition.
Thanks for all the letters lined up on the counter, and my first (from Mama!) today, and for a lovely Skype with C.
Thanks for helping me pray for J while doing kitchen laps, ~20 mins.
Help me sift through the Buddha's words, keep only what will serve.

Jesus, I don't know You as You should be known. Don't give up on me.
Make what You desire - truth - in my inmost.

Good afternoon of prayer, fasting & rest. Good is perhaps the wrong word...important? Needed. Helpful. Prayer with A & C, too.
Dancing to Innocence Mission with almost all the lights out. "Shadow of the Almighty", and more of John 1.
I should mention yesterday though. SUCH A SUCCESS of a day for You! Breakfast, reconciliation, visiting...and off to St. Lou! I had a lovely visit with O, and a really sweet time getting to know R before everyone else arrived. They're an awesome family. Metal detectors, corn snake, horses, Manga, books.
T told me some of their story. They were 17 and 23 when they married. Thank You for keeping them together. Thank You for holding all things together by Your powerful Word.
Use every stubborn hapless part of me.
Give me more. Make the dry bones come alive. Would I trust You for salvation, and not for that?