The Squeeze

Skinny Girl Squeeze beginning

All I can seem to think about the last few days is what it is to be squeezed. Maybe you can relate. You know that feeling when the walls, the ceiling, the air above, and the floor beneath you, seem to be closing in. It’s that sensation of not knowing if you’ll make it out…not knowing if that elusive light at the end of the tunnel will bring warmth to your face. It is the season of the uncertainty, the uneasiness of tight places, the wondering in the wandering.

When my husband and I were on our honeymoon, we spent some time among the rocks and trees in the Northern Alabama. The wonderful man from whom we’d rented the cabin we stayed in took us out on his land one afternoon to explore, hike, and get lost in the majesty of it all. In the spirit of adventure he talked us into going through a few tight places where the rocks barely gave access. First, we wriggled our way through what he called, “Fat man’s squeeze”. It was a little tricky for my husband to maneuver, but my scrawny frame didn’t object so much.

A little further down the path, we came to an opening in the rocks that he informed us was “skinny girl’s squeeze”. He didn’t fit so he’d never been that way, but one gentlemen who worked for him had made it through and told of the gorgeous view from the other side. Maybe the wonder and majesty of the journey had awakened a bravery and sense of adventure in me that had been dormant for a while, but I thought, “I’m a skinny girl…bring it!” and decided to give it a shot.

Everything was fine until about halfway through. The walls of stone around me had narrowed a bit and I wasn’t sure if I was as skinny as I thought I was. Size zero or not, it was getting tight in there. Then my shoe got stuck. By this time, my feet had to be turned sideways, as if I was ready to plié my way through. There was no room to turn in any way. In an effort to free my foot from its prison, I leaned a bit toward the end of the crevice until I was almost lying down. I heard my guide from behind yelling for me not to lie down or I’d never make it. They wouldn’t be able to go in after me either and help wasn’t a possibility. I HAD to keep going, upright; there was no other option.

I’m not quite sure how I did it, but I eventually got free and made it to the other side, an inch and wiggle at a time. It was beautiful there. There was something magical about knowing I was one of very few who’d been where I was standing. I felt alive in a new way standing there in the open, knowing I’d made it through the squeeze. I drank in the beauty surrounded by stone that had kept so many out. There, in the openness, where the sun shone free, I was a conqueror, a warrior who’d fought through the obstacles and made it to freedom.

Lately, I’ve been in a place that reminds me of the rock. I’ve been squeezed, hard-pressed on every side as scripture describes it. I know now, just as I did then, that God will never put me somewhere without providing a way out. There is a light on the other side. But, I have to keep moving forward to reach it. If I lie down, I’ll end up stuck. Even when my feet seem wedged into the rock, there’s a rock that’s higher than I that is faithful to bring me to freedom if I just keep on standing. I have to keep moving forward, there is no other option. He, my guide and comfort, is faithful, and He calls to me words of instruction and encouragement even when I’m beginning to panic.

On the other side, there is a beauty I’ve never known. On the other side, I am stronger. On the other side, the sun is shining and I am wiser and more prepared for the next obstacle. I will never forget the squeeze. I will always keep moving forward. The other side is so worth the journey.

squeeze

Messy Me

content

I haven’t been writing lately. Not because the desire has left me but because I knew what came out would be messy. Quite honestly, lately, life has been messy. All of the broken and jagged pieces I’d thought time had smoothed, surfaced with force, cutting through my clay heart and thin skin. What remained was a tattered, worn, version of me. I guess it’s true when the scripture says to be careful when you think you stand because you will fall. I am, once again, a living example of this principle. You’re welcome.

Maybe there’s extra grace there, somewhere in the rubble. There’s this extra measure of assurance that if we can get through so many ups and downs and He hasn’t failed us yet, maybe it’s true that He won’t fail. Maybe we will fail, as we so often do, but in the end, there’s a beauty in the mess if we can only take the risk of embracing it.

 You see, I don’t have to prove myself. I don’t have to be clean to come to the one who washes me. I don’t have to have it all together before I come to the one who knit me together in my mother’s womb. I don’t have to have it all figured out to lean in close and hear His wisdom. I don’t have to play all the right notes before I listen to the song He sings over me. And there again is the beauty…that in the midst of the mess, He’s still singing. He never stopped singing. So maybe I should sing too.

So with reckless abandon, I choose today, to sing wildly. I jump to my feet, dodging the obstacles, and dance.  The mess probably won’t go away anytime today or maybe even tomorrow, but piece by piece, I know He will rebuild me. I am more than the messes. I am a victor. My messy heart will sing in wonder, not because of who I am, but because of who He is and how vast His love is for me. What more could anyone ask for?

The Greatest of these is Love

Though Angels’ tongues could escape my lips and sentiment sweet should flow

When grace extends my patience thin

When arms become empty, hearts heavy, feet ready for escape, eyes drifting, head aching, song quiet, candles huffed to cooled wax, all seems lost around me, I remember. 

Greater love has no man than he who lays down his life for a friend. 

Perfect love casts out fear

Love suffers long and is kind

Love thinks no evil, bears all things, believes all things. 

Love never fails. 

Love is not about what I can get. 

For love, I empty myself 

I give all

I prefer another

I am fulfilled 

Love

Refocusing

  
Blurs are often ended with the bluntness of a break. A single straw that interrupts the momentum long enough for sanity to creep in and remind me that I am more than this. 

In the quest for perfection, I lost sight of the adventure. In the race towards better, I steadily slipped into worse. In the pursuit of holiness, I forgot to trust in grace. Somewhere in between it all, I stopped breathing. I lost myself when I quit looking. 

Today, I’m thankful for the straw. Small fractals of light that shine through offense, wake me from my hypnotism. Freedom often comes when I least expect it. Thank you straw man! Lord, please block my path when I get stuck on auto-pilot. 

Lightning

  
 PHOTOGRAPH BY LIONEL BROWN, GETTY IMAGES 



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. 

Missing Myself

It’s all been a whirlwind. I’m sure you’ve been there, when life creeps in and steals…well, the life right out of you. Then suddenly I realize in the midst of the grind, the day to day, the chaos, that I don’t have to allow it all to get the best of me. I can choose to stop even when the madness doesn’t. I get the privilege of deciding what warrants immediate attention and what can wait. I get to decide that I’m important too.

I think mothers are so easily susceptible to what I’ll call the squishing. The systematic pressing down of oneself in favor of those you love and/or those who scream the loudest. Then suddenly, the music stops, the writing ceases in lieu of more pressing priorities. All that was placed in you by the creator is shelved for another time…a seemingly mythic day when there’s quiet, though you know the heart will cry when quiet comes because they have grown and you may have missed something.

I think at the end of the day, we can have it all. We can treasure the moments of motherhood, maintain some measure of order and cleanliness, actually shower, and still be us. I know, I know, sounds too good to be true. I still believe that God placed treasure in earthen vessels and that He never gives us a load too difficult for us to bear. We may need to exercise our faith muscles. We may need to work diligently to find balance. We may need to learn to say no or ask for help but it may be worth it.

Today, I’m making a resolution that I will make myself make time. I will read. I will write. I will sing. I will play. Yes, I’ll still clean and nurse and nurture and teach but I will make the time to be me. The world will be a better place and I will be a better version of myself. Today, I’m determined.

Though I’ve been missing in action for a while, I’m coming back to life, one decision at a time and I shouldn’t have to miss me much longer.

Dust Buster

boy in duststorm

Photo credit: Arthur Rothstein, A young boy in dust storm, Oklahoma, 1936 PBS

 

“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.