You’re like lightning. You come in flashes that light the whole world with beauty. With each strike, you rejuvenate and enrich the soil. You bring with you hope and the promise of rain. But in the end, I know you’ll hurt me if i get too close.
“Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust” Isaiah 26:19
The dust hangs heavy in the air, swirling around hiding the light with haze.
It’s easy to become lost in the chaos, caught up as the torrent of fear flows by, catching us unaware, unprepared.
It’s easy to break and stumble. It’s easy to give in and crumble as the mud starts to cake, heavy, on our skin. We become a sculpture of something else, a figure we never expected to be.
The mirror betrays us. We can’t recognize the person staring back, glass eyes, with fire dimmed to ember.
But there’s a song, a melody resounding above the thickness and our eyes suddenly open to the wonder.
Open your mouth and sing along. Let praise emanate from within. Let it cleanse the air with the sweetness of Spirit. Let it wash the skin and mind with life.
Sing of His greatness, hear Him call you by name, and know that nothing else matters. He sees, He hears, and He adores you.
Figure of dust, know that you are a treasure, transformed by love song into beauty.
There’s a canvas where purpose meets potential and I find myself painting there.
Blank before me the beginning of yet another chapter…one I didn’t ask for.
I sit on the edge of now, waiting, breathing in, breathing out, feeling the quiet as substance filling the caverns of fear.
I take in my hand and my heart what you give and set to work. There has to be beauty here.
Every stroke with the brush reminding me that you see me.
You paint me lovely even when my eyes cease to see the wonder.
All I am is yours.
This morning began like any other. I guzzled some coffee, did my mom thing, got a quick workout in, did laundry. At some point when the dust had settled, I sat down for a dose of social media while the Today Show played in the background. There was a post (which I will not link here because there is a curse word in it) from a friend of mine that in essence said a “real woman” is whatever she wants to be rather than curvy or skinny or muscular etc. Meanwhile, the Today Show can’t stop talking about People Magazine’s selection of Lupita Nyong’o as Most Beautiful person of the year.
The Today Show host said that Lupita had said in an interview that growing up, she didn’t feel beautiful at all. And it hit me afresh how many women feel this way. How sad that we’ve allowed outside opinion and influence to dictate our identity. I too am guilty of propagating the lie.
Just this morning, I caught myself thinking, as I looked a friend’s photo, “She is such a pretty girl, but she wears WAY too much makeup!” I know I’ve said the opposite as well, “She would be so pretty if she wore a little makeup.” Or “lost weight” or “gained weight” or “dressed better” or…you get the idea.
I’ve propagated the lie inward as well. “I need to lose those last few baby pounds.” “I need shoes like that” “I need a new hairstyle.”…you get the idea. Don’t misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with doing things that make you feel confident like getting a new haircut or wearing those outfits that make you feel like you can conquer earth with your awesomeness. I think those things are important and healthy. The problem starts when we believe the lie that we are defined from the outside.
The truth is that a real woman is not defined by her appearance. A real woman is not defined by weight, style, physical attributes, clothing, shoes, hair, makeup. A real woman is defined by who she is, who she was made to be and the God who created her with purpose and destiny.
Maybe if we all realized that we are beautiful just because we were created to carry the beauty of the divine and share that beauty with the world, we would start living a little differently. Think about it, what is more beautiful than a woman stopping to wipe tears from little eyes and help a smile reappear? What is more beautiful than reaching a hand to someone no one else sees and showing them they have value? What is more beautiful than the one who brings food to the hungry, water to the thirsty? When someone stops the chaos for a moment of conversation and tenderness?
When we will stop being distracted by the trivial and start living the eternal? Love is forever.
When we carry the divine, we are beautiful.
I am beautiful because He is beauty and He lives in me.
In my own little world I become numb
The small of my back resting in a small little chair
In my small little house on a small little street
In a small little town
Where the green grass grows all around, all around…
The days go by one by one like a blur and I forget to open my eyes
Perspective is a thing gained in increments, easily ignored, or swallowed forcibly
We can either look straight at the moments that define us
Or recover with as much grace possible when life hits hard
I hope to choose the former
So here I am on the edge of the world realizing that there is a vastness so much greater than me
Adventure so much grander than I have imagined
A people gripped by more need than I have acknowledged
There are tears I have not shed in prayer
Hands I’ve refused to hold for fear of soiling my own
Eyes I have not looked deeply into
Thirsts not quenched by the reaching of my own hand
Somehow here, my mundane seems to lack meaning
To make an impact above the ordinary
To excel in the midst of the mediocre
To fulfill, suddenly becomes the only source of fulfillment
I am made full by the pouring out of all I am on the altar
The emptying of self in reasonable service to the Most High
Deep calling deep within my soul
Revealing to me that I only live when I stop living only for me
Here on the edge of the world, I find a new beginning.
It’s been a whirlwind of a week. School’s back in session. The big kids started last Monday while the littlest guy comes to work everyday with me. I’ve been back at work for several weeks now since having the baby. Honestly, I didn’t really take a maternity leave at all. I stayed away from the office for about a week and a half, all the while answering calls and questions from home, then packed baby man up and headed in. I’m so thankful that having the baby with me at work is an option. I realize that I am blessed abundantly!
Still, I’d cut back on my hours of actual office time. I’ve been working from home a little more and also reminding myself that the world will not end if I don’t accomplish everything in one day. For some reason when school started on Monday, it felt like my (imagined) maternity leave was over. My hectic schedule is back in full swing. I’m busy with backpacks and lunch boxes and drop off and pick up. Now I’ve got diaper bags and feeding schedules and an infant screaming in car-rider line added to the mix. I know many of you can relate to this.
Let’s face it, life can get a bit chaotic from time to time. Yet, somehow in the midst of this, we are expected to dig deep and pull out the gifts within us and do something great with them. For years, I shelved most of my writing. I didn’t bother sharing many of my original songs because I knew I wouldn’t have time to invest in finishing them and performing them. I allowed the chaos to overtake me.
Thankfully I’ve learned that the only way I can truly live is to dig deep. All those things I shelved for later are the very things that bring me peace today. A life of order and balance includes our passions. If we don’t allow our passions the fuel and air they need, we will suffocate beneath the weight of the mundane.
This week, in the midst of the hectic, I took a few seconds to breathe, to write, to pray, to snap a picture or two in the yard. I am alive and free. Don’t let the jungle swallow your soul. Let your soul be the soil for beauty to flourish.
We’ve had a lot of rain over the past month here in Southwest Florida. The ground is saturated and consequently when more rain comes, we flood. The odd thing is that most of our street is high and dry, but our yard is a swamp. It’s inconvenient in a lot of ways. We can’t mow certain areas so the wild is overtaking the manicured. Bugs are invading the house more than normal.
If you’ve never visited South Florida, I can tell you that it is an education in strange bugs and arachnids. We have some mega spiders and odd-looking creepy crawlers. Most of these don’t bother us a bit, but I have to admit that spiders the size of my hand appearing in the bedroom (as a general rule) do not inspire happy thoughts in me.
I warn my son daily to be on the lookout for snakes and gators when he’s playing in the yard. Living by a canal, we usually look out for these anyway, but with the extra water, comes extra cottonmouths and you never know when and where a snake will pop up as we learned earlier this year (The Snake in the House).
Despite all of this, I’ve been intrigued by the water. It’s random beauty standing out from the otherwise consistent. The fact that it’s just our yard strikes me as well. It’s like God sending a little beauty just for us, washing us with the water, changing the landscape. Sure, problems sometimes come with the beauty. God never promised us a life of roses and relaxation. The greatest character is built through the storms and the chaos. In the midst of these, we learn to trust him and find the wonder. In that, he is glorified and we are changed a little more into his image.
I pray I always find the wonder in the midst of the flood, that I find the beauty in the chaos, that I look for the ways he’s romancing me and reminding me of his love. Nothing he does is haphazard. He paints the skies with us in mind. He plants flowers to amaze us. He smiles at us in the midst of the brokenness, wraps us up in his love and inspires us to be completely his. There is truly nothing better than that.